The Dawoodi Bohra community believes in living life to its fullest. The celebratory aura typical of a festival is not limited to only religious and cultural occasions. In fact, the use of colour and fragrance is a way of life for this vibrant community. Attar, essential oil derived from botanical sources, is integral to their daily grooming, and is even exchanged ceremonially on communal occasions. Taking forward this tradition, Sarrah Hamidi is spearheading Raihaan – The Oudh Shop (RTOUS) with her mother Jumana Shakir and her sisters Insiya Ranjijiwala and Ummulkiram Yamani.
Established in 2013, by Sarrah’s husband Murtaza Hamidi, the brand was born from the family’s penchant for the extremely precious and highly fragrant Oudh or Agarwood. In a community which emphasises the use of alcohol-free products, Agarwood holds a special place, given its versatility. Harnessing this very trait of this gift of Nature, RTOUS has created a wide range of homegrown products including attars, soaps, incense sticks and burner, essential oils, Oudh chips, and more. And the noteworthy part about this venture is the fact that the brand is set up in their home.
“My husband’s love for Agarwood gave birth to our business, and I furthered it with my insight into the consumer’s minds, what they want, and smart marketing. We manufacture everything at home to ensure high quality products and retention of authenticity. With my mother and sisters joining us, we became a strong family business, and have grown to enjoy a global presence,” says Sarrah.
The sister trio believes that being digitally empowered is the need of the hour, and key to the success of their business. Making the most of technology and social media, they retail their products through their website, social media pages, and online mediums. By participating in business expos and retail conventions, they have created such word-of-mouth publicity and visibility for their brand, that despite operating out of their home, their products are being sold globally.
“Our Syedna has always encouraged us to be entrepreneurs and business-minded. This means we are constantly learning, innovating, and growing in life. And this growth is not limited to or measured by financial growth; it is a more holistic approach towards the quality of life,” they say. To that they add, "Our vision is not just to grow ourselves, but also uplift others of our community. We want to help them prosper even more than us."
In a community where family forms the nucleus of the society and women are the centre of that nucleus, it is thrilling to see a family that is running a business and a home together. Mother Jumana and sisters like Sarah, Insiya and Ummulkiram are living proof of the fact that blood is thicker than water, and in these ever-changing times, it is certainly possible to be rooted in tradition while also scaling peaks of success.